MOBILE LEARNING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: CAN PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS HELP PRACTICING TEACHERS USE NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN NEW WAYS?
Mobile learning (mLearning) devices are ideal for 21st century learning. mLearning devices are light, and, therefore, mobile so that young children can use them anywhere; for example, tablet computers, programmable robots such as Bee-Bots and robotic Lego. The term 21st century learning is used around the world and includes the skills of collaboration, communication, new literacy, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving (Noss, 2012). New literacy has emerged because of new technologies and being literate in the 21st century now means being digitally literate. However, mLearning is not widely used in early childhood education despite the fact that schools are investing in hardware, software and infrastructure (Bittman, Rutherford, Brown, & Unsworth, 2011; Mazzoni, Nicolò, Sapio, & Isaias, 2015). This paper reports on the results of a three-year study investigating the synergy between pre-service and practicing early childhood teachers using a community of practice approach. The pre-service teachers presented technology rich lessons at partner schools as part of an ICT unit they complete during their studies. The lecturer assisted the pre-service teachers in preparing lessons. The pre-service teachers, who lacked pedagogy and classroom experience and had the opportunity to teach “real” children. The practicing teachers, with good pedagogical skills, provided curriculum content and pedagogical feedback to the pre-service teachers and at the same time have the opportunity to observe the developmentally appropriate use of technology in their classrooms. The research explores the partnerships between schools and a university and how the technological knowledge of the participants developed.